McLuhan and dirty concrete poetry quotes

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 by Lori Emerson

“….probably because they secretly undermine language, because they make it impossible to name this and that, because they shatter or tangle common names, because they destroy ‘syntax’ in advance….heterotopias…desiccate speech, stop words in their tracks, contest the very possibility of grammar at its source; they dissolve our myths and sterilize the lyricism of our sentences.” (Michel Foucault)

“…it distributes writing in a space no longer possessing the neutrality, openness, and inert blankness of paper. It forces the ideogram to arrange itself according to the laws of a simultaneous form. For the blink of an eye, it reduces phoneticism to a mere grey noise completing the contours of the shape; but it renders outline as a thin skin that must be pierced in order to follow, word for word, the outpouring of its internal text….Thus the calligram aspires playfully to efface the oldest oppositions of our alphabetical civilization: to show and to name; to shape and to say; to reproduce and to articulate; to imitate and to signifiy; to look and to read.” (Michel Foucault)

“It is the advantage of the typewriter that, due to its rigidity and its space precisions, it can, for a poet, indicate exactly the breath, the pauses, the suspensions even of syllables, the juxtapositions even of parts of phrases, which he intends.” (Charles Olson)

“1968 was the year when man really appeared. Man who is the streets, HIS PROPERTY, for he alone makes it…Yes, 1968 saw this. And for all these reasons, I was, and am opposed to concrete poetry, which makes nothing concrete, because it is not active. It has never been in the streets, it has never known how to fight to save man’s conquests: the street which belongs to us, to carry the word elsewhere than the printing press. In fact, concrtete poetry has remained an intellectual matter. A pity.” (Henri Chopin)

“I write on a typewriter, almost never in hand…and my machine – an obsolete red-top Royal Portable – is the biggest influence on my work. This red hood holds the mood, keeps my eye happy. The type-face is a standard pica; if it were another style I’d write (subtly) different poems. And when a ribbon gets dull my poems I’m sure change.” (Aram Saroyan)

“my own typestracts…are all produced on a portable olivetti lettera 22…there are 86 typeunits available on my machine for use w/2-colour or no ribbon – or with carbons of various colours – the maximum size surface w/out folding is abt 10″ diagonal – the ribbons may be of various ages – several ribbons may be used on a single typestract – inked-ribbon & manifold (carbon) can be combined on same typestract – pressures may be varied – overprints & semioverprints (1/2 back or 1/2 forward) are available…precise placing of the typestract units is possible thru spacebar & ratcheted-roller – or roller may be disengaged.” (Dom Sylvester Houédard)

As I am unable to think except on the typewriter, my poems have been, from the beginning, all 81/2″ x 11″. This is not only misunderstood by the printers, it is ignored. And if one should happen to bring it to their attention they say – do it yourself. So I have. I have begun to make my own letters and to think in ink.” (Ronald Johnson)

“As McLuhan says, you can’t make the new medium do the old job. The information in a new poem can’t be the same as the information in an old poem…What interests me now is that new poetry isn’t going to be poetry for reading. It’s going to be for looking at…I mean book, print culture, is finished.” (Dick Higgins)

Could it be that the central problem of the next ten years or so, for all artists in all possible forms, is going to be less the still further discovery of new media and intermedia, but of the new discovery of ways to use what we care about both appropriately and explicitly?" (Dick Higgins)

“Stephen Spender once suggested that the reason there is no more avant-garde experiment in literature is that this role has been assumed by the new media of expression.” (Marshall McLuhan)

"…the artist senses at once the creative possibilities in new media even when they are alien to his own medium…The artist is the historian of the future because he uses the unnoticed possibilities of the present.” (Marshall McLuhan)

“Few activists, however, take the more daring path of exploring certain points of the media system in such a way that throws established syntax into a state of agitation. This is poetic praxis in the strict sense that the magical realist Bruno Schultz of Poland understood it: ‘If art is only supposed to confirm what has been determined for as long as anyone can remember, then one doesn’t need it. Its role is to be a probe that is let down into the unknown. The artist is a device that registers processes taking place in the depths where values are created.” (Zielinski)

“now that we have reached the point where people have finally come to see that language means communication and that communication does not just mean language, we have come up against the problem, the actual fact, of diversification, of finding as many exits as possible from the self (language/communication exits) in order to form as many entrances as possible for the other.” (bpNichol)

“…if politics is the art of the possible, its scope must now, in the electric age, include the shaping and programming of the entire sensory environment as a luminous work of art.” (Marshall McLuhan)


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